We had a visit from Rev Glyn Jones from Mission Aviation Fellowship, which was founded in 1948 by a group of ex-RAF pilots who saw the potential of being able to fly aircraft into places other forms of transport could not easily reach. Its current motto is “Flying for Life” and a MAF plane takes off on average every 4 minutes. Planes go out in all kinds of difficult situations: war zones, dangerous terrain, and all weathers; usually landing on primitive airstrips wich can be very tricky. Some of the world’s most vulnerable people are served by these aircraft, bringing the most unusual assortment of items – but always bringing the Good News about the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s a case of flying the extra mile for Him.
MAF currently works in 30 countries, including some of the world’s conflict hotspots like South Sudan as well as isolated communities in places like Mongolia and even in Australia.
We need to recognise that we are a privileged people here in the UK – 75% of the world’s population do not have our wealth and opportunities. The key words in our passage from Luke 10:25-37 are these “go and do likewise.”
The MAF founders had a clear vision for what they could do with their aircraft. What’s our vision for what we can do? How can we help those who don’t have? The church is not passive, it’s about serving the world, not just in words but in deeds. We can help MAF in prayer and giving as well as remaining in touch of what they do through the internet.
Give thanks for
- The ability MAF has to get into places that are so remote; often the only link in many parts of the world.
- The opportunity and privilege to help vulnerable people build community and bring good news.
- For those pilots risking life and limb to fly aircraft in difficult circumstances.
- For all the ground crew and other staff that keep planes flying.
Do pray for
- For more volunteers including those who go around churches to tell others about MAF
- For ongoing cooperation with authorities to be able to continue flying.
- Those flying in hotspots like Sudan and currently in cyclone hit southern Africa.
- For continuing opportunities to fly in a world where there are many regulations and political issues.
For discussion and reflection
Read like 10:25-37
1. Take a look at those who walked past the injured man. Why do you think that they didn’t stop – after all they were religious weren’t they? Think of ways that Christians might walk past on the other side in our society in this generation.
2. The Samaritan in the story was the outcast who helped a man who in different circumstances might not have given him the time of day. What does that tell us about who we should have compassion on in our own community and country?
3. The Samaritan took a risk even stopping to help the injured man as the robbers could have still been about. Were there any other risks he took? What might that tell us about the riskiness of bringing the Good News to men and women? Are some are called to take bigger risks than others? How can we most effectively support such people?
4. What sort of risks are there for us in our situation for serving others or speaking others in Christ’s name? How big a risk are we willing to take? Take time to pray together, and also for MAF, in the risky work many in their ministry are involved in.
A printable version (PDF) can be downloaded here
On Sunday 10th February, Peter Walker from The Leprosy Mission spoke about the mission’s work in Nepal, entitled Heal Nepal. Details can be found here. He introduced the subject/ by talking about the parable of the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7). In some ways it sounds a ridiculous story. Who would leave 99 sheep behind in the open just to find one lost sheep? Why pursue one sheep with such diligence? It sounds crazy, but we have a God who was prepared to pursue us at huge risk and cost.
People suffering from leprosy understand this kind of thinking when faced with those seeking them out. They are people shunned by their community just for having leprosy. It’s worse than being sick because they end up hiding away. Yet because of the way we were pursued by God, the Leprosy Mission pursues those shunned and hiding in order to bring help and healing.
TLM have been working in Nepal since the 1950s. The Mission wasn’t allowed to build hospital in capital because of fear of leprosy and had to be built 20km outside Kathmandu at Anandaban. Even though the hospital had good facilities, locals people without leprosy refused to use it. That was until 2 years ago when the area around Anandaban was cut off from the main city and the injured locals needed the hospital. Leprosy patients gave up their beds and helped the local people. There was a huge change in attitudes and now the hospital is being rebuilt after the earthquake, more facilities are being put in to cover the local people who now use the facility.
The hospital is now doing an outreach programme to find people in remote areas suffering from Leprosy and in hiding rather than seek help. Like the Good Shepherd, they are seeking out the lost in Nepal’s remote communities.
If people get to the hospital in time, they can be spared the disfigurements that result from leprosy being untreated. However the hospital has the expertise to improve many people’s disfigurements. The video for this is available in another post.
The hospital is a praying community and people suffering from leprosy find acceptance and care there, which they do not see in their community. Because of their, many come to Christ as a result of the care they receive.
We need to remember too that God pursues us, not so that we may just find Christ, but also when our lives slip and we drift away from Him. And however many steps we take away from Him, there is always only one step back!
For Discussion and Reflection.
Read Luke 15:1-7
1. What was so risky about the shepherd’s mission to seek out the lost sheep? What does this passage show about God’s passion to pursue those who are lost?
2. Fear and suspicion cause many to be shunned or even persecuted in many societies. Contracting leprosy is just one example. What sort of things cause individuals to be shunned by others in our society? What can we do about it?
3. What could be done to break down the barriers of prejudice that divides our society and renders individuals worthless, or even sends some into hiding? What can we do as individuals to stop it?
4. God always pursues us however far we slip away. How does knowing we are only one step back to him change that equation? Share any testimonies you have of slipping away from the Lord as a Christin and returning to Him.
The course this year is called “Looking For The Dawn” and is based on the Oscar winning film, “Darkest Hour”. The programme is below and click here for the course materials (printable A5 PDF file). The Large Print A4 pdf version – click here to view or download – is ideal for those who want to read it on phone, tablet or computer.